STEP 1: Pick a topic
A good paper or project often comes from a topic that interests you. In step one, you will want to think about a topic of interest. Is the topic too broad or too narrow? If it is too broad you may be finding thousands of articles that seem pertinent and if too narrow, you may not find enough information.

Keep in mind that your topic may change after finding articles of interest. 

Try some of these suggestions:  
  • Look through your class texts for something of interest  
  • Look through a general source providing background information such as Credo Reference  
  • Find specific interests in searching (Oregon Tech Library catalogElectronic Resources)   
  • Flip through some journals relevant to the topic 
  • Talk to your professor, classmates, librarian in your subject of interest  
Information: Mind Map (expand or narrow a topic)
Mind Map is a feature in Credo Reference.  

Watch this 2 minute presentation, What is the Mind Map? 

It will explain how to reach the mind map, to brainstorm, build research vocabulary, uncover connection
s, and find fact-based information. You may print the map as a PDF or embed this tool. Here is a mind map on cultural diversity.
      Iris Godwin                    Alla Powers
    541-885-1965                 541-885-1774
                    Research Help

How do I reach the "Electronic Resources” from the library website?
TECHweb, find Libraries, Electronic Resources 

Oregon Tech homepage, select Academics,  Libraries, Electronic Resources or select the QUICKLINKS folder, Library.  
Use the direct link (Login)  

Once you have clicked on an electronic resource, you may need to login with your Oregon Tech ID and password.
STEP 2, 3, 4
Work on these steps before you start to search for articles.  

Step 2: Formulate a preliminary research question. If you have difficulty with this, librarians or your instructor are glad to help.  
Step 3: From your question glean 2-3 meaningful keywords, preferably nouns, that best describe your topic.

Step 4: Find more keywords or synonyms in dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedias, from the library catalog, or in the abstracts of articles first retrieved.  
Do you need help with choosing search terms? Contact a librarian. 
STEP 5. Search Interdisiplinary Electronic Resource (ER)
To perform preliminary searching: in an interdisciplinary database you may search:  
Academic Search Complete  (published by EBSCOhost) See tutorial below. 

Next is a presentation on how to search and use the features of "Academic Search Complete" by EBSCOhost. The library has many resources produced by this company. Much of what is taught may be applied in these resources. 
Introduction to EBSCOhost - Tutorial - Example of Academic Search Complete
Research Tool - Use Boolean Operators
Connect the search terms chosen previously to formulate search strings. For this purpose, researchers use Boolean Operators: AND, OR and NOT. The best way to visualize the function of each connector is to look at a Venn diagram. The colored area indicates the number of items with the terms that will be retrieved in each case.

STEP 6: Search Subject Specific Electronic Resources (See advanced searching techniques below.)

This is not a comprehensive list. Checkout the Electronic Resources A to Z list (publisher given):  


Business: Business Source Complete (EBSCOhost)  

Education: ERIC (EBSCOhost)  

Engineering: Applied Science and Technology (EBSCOhost)   

Health and Medicine: CINAHL (EBSCO), SMART Imagebase (medical illustrations, animations, videos, interactive tools, and monographs of anatomy, physiology, embryology, surgery, trauma, pathology, diseases, and conditions)  

Information: Advanced searching techniques
STEP 7: What should I consider when evaluating my sources?
Make sure the source has something to do with your topic. You can increase the relevancy of articles you are finding by using a few search techniques. 
Researching a historical topic will allow you to use older resources. If the newest scientific research is needed, you will want the latest resources available.
Ask who wrote and who published the resource. Authors and publishers tend to leave their opinions in their written works.  
Try to recognize the bias that is included in the article.  
Your professor/instructor or librarian may give you different ways to evaluate the article, book, etc. 

Note: Keep in mind to identify your target audience and choose supporting evidence accordingly.
Information: What is a peer-reviewed article? Is it the same as scholarly? (3 minute video)

Although peer-reviewed journals are always scholarly in nature, scholarly journals are not always peer-reviewed. Scholarly journals report on the results of original research and experimentation. Publication of scholarly articles requires the approval of an editorial board. Peer-reviewed or refereed journals go through a more rigorous review process of a panel of the experts before publication. See: Peer Review in 3 minutes. 


Information: Citing Your Sources/Writing Assistance - Purdue Owl
  • Citing your sources shows the research you have done and leads your readers to the texts you cited in your paper. For help with citing go to: Library home page – Help – Citing Sources where there are helpful presentations and select the style you prefer to learn more.
  • The Purdue University Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL) serves writers from around the world. 
    • ​It is a resource for both APA 7th and 6th edition and MLA writing style. These are general guidelines, always find out what is expected in a particular class from the instructor.
    • Research and Citation Resources has links to the latest Chicago Manual of Style, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Style, and the American Medical Association.
                                                                                                                                                                                      Created 10/7/2020